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WHAT HAPPENED?

The Law Business Manifesto has your answers.

Law Business Manifesto

Work-Life Balance Only Happens When You Fully Embrace Both

My home is my refuge, my sanctuary. It’s the place where my soul gets rejuvenated each day. I take the beauty and soundness of my home very seriously. The condition of my home impacts my business in concrete ways. When my home is orderly, my thinking is orderly, and vice versa.

I used to feel guilty that I spent so much of my “work day” at home. I’d putter around the kitchen, washing dishes, cleaning counters, fold the laundry, make beds, clear up the clutter. But when I’d sit down to study or write, my head would be clear and focused. A lot would get done in very short periods of time.  

When I first started my firm, I worried that I seemed to spend a lot of time at home, thinking that I wasn’t being productive. Then a coach suggested I build that into my work life — to create my work around my home life. Really!? You mean I didn’t have to feel guilty that I liked being at home and yet still wanted to make money?!    

So I adapted my life to meet my need to be at home and have a lovely, organized home life, too.

When I finally relaxed into my need for an organized home with me in it, my business began to grow and grow!

Here are a few ideas that can help you balance your roles inside the home with your roles in your business: 

  • Make peace with your conflicting roles. You probably have a ton of roles to fulfill—parent, spouse, lover, son/daughter, sibling, leader—and probably do pretty well at balancing all those. Your work life as an entrepreneur has several roles as well—owner, manager, and technician—each of which brings their own priorities and issues. Do you know which role you are in at any given time? Are you aware of the role conflict you feel? Is the manager in you picking on the technician in you? Is the owner demanding too much of the manager? If your roles are in turmoil, the best thing you can do is give each of these parts of your work life their very own dedicated time and space. Hence–
  • Calendar blocking. Block your calendar so that each of your inner employees has ample time to do their thing. Of course, they’re all YOU, so it’s up to you to give each one your full attention. Block your calendar so that you’re in each role at the optimum time for your mind and body. Here’s an example from mine:

martha postPurple = Manager hours; Red = Visionary hours; Orange = Technician hours;
Green = Money Days.

The days in purple, red or orange are days that I can work at home if I choose, or if I need concentrated focused time, I go into the office. Either way, I get to choose where and how I work.  

The green areas are “Money Days” when I need to be dressed up and in the office. These are times when I will expect the firm to bring in revenue and my tank needs to be full. A schedule like this is sustainable over a long term. It gives me room to maneuver, allows the extreme efficiencies of focused attention, and has a sense of ease around it. Every role I play gets time to do their thing well.

  • Onboard slowly. Make Monday a day of organizing, preparing, and beginning. Don’t schedule big meetings on Mondays, instead plan to wear comfortable clothes and be at ease so that when Tuesdays comes, you’re prepared without having to breath very hard.
  • Give yourself ample time to “onboard” to each type of task. Getting into a particular kind of task takes about a half hour. Take that into consideration and give yourself time in between tasks and meetings. Don’t switch from one type of task to another too quickly because you won’t be at your best.
  • Give yourself permission to work at home at least one-half day a week, and when you do, go ahead and do some chores around the house while you’re working. Puttering is very productive time mentally and emotionally. It has the added benefit of freeing your mind to focus on other things because you’re not worried that the laundry isn’t getting done—because you did it already!
  • Allow yourself to be totally focused on your outside days. If you’ve given your soul everything it needs, those days when you’re with clients are days you can give them your all. When your tank is full, your clients will sense that you are totally present for them. They can relax and will know they’re in good hands. Too many attorneys appear frazzled, or worse, distant and distracted. But when you’re life feels manageable, your clients will know you’re in control and can help them with the unmanageable parts of their lives. Everyone wins!
  • Get off the clock and stay off. As a business owner, you will drive yourself into the ground. When you develop your calendar, stick to it. Don’t let yourself work after hours or on weekends unless it’s inspired work. (I’m writing this on a Sunday but I was inspired to do it and I’m not taking time away from my family to do it).
  • This is a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re just starting out, you may be tempted to think that you have to go full-tilt boogie. If you do that, you will hurt yourself and quit too soon. Yes, you’ll work longer hours to start with, but make sure you’re taking very good care of your body and mind. Build time into your calendar for exercise, meditation, prayer, bodywork, dance—whatever is meaningful that keeps you in your body.

Part of the wonder of being a business owner is that you get to be creative in how you manage your work and your life. No one is there requiring that you work 8:00 to 5:00. You may find that your most productive time is in the evening. If that’s the case, work more in the evening and give yourself time back elsewhere.

Are you ready to make a positive shift in your practice and life?  Start here: 

 

About the Contributor
Martha Hartney
Martha Hartney's is a successful Estate Planning lawyer in Colorado and co-creator of the Estate Planning Bootcamp. As a Law Business Mentor her greatest hope is to help other lawyers claim, or reclaim, the joy and the spiritual pursuit of being a lawyer.

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  1. Penelope Gardner
    October 31, 2013 at 2:18 am

    I often feel this way, an organized home leads to productive work both at home and the office. Too bad the standard model is for us to always be at the office (even our own) or people assume we are not really working. I find this leads to burn-out, something I never thought I would experience with work I used to love.

  2. Mary Luke
    November 2, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Hi,

    Martha, I looked at your schedule and it looks beautifully thought out. I’m hoping you and some other lawyermommies can help me with a scheduling issue. I am grandmother to an adorable three year old. My daughter needs to work full time in an office. My granddaughter just started ballet lessons. Problem is, they are on Wednesdays. (Saturday class was not available, and I want to do this because my daughter is so exhausted from her demanding job, and I want to spend time with my granddaughter.

    So Wednesday will not be a work day for me. I find I am spilling over into having to work weekends on stressful matters which I haven’t yet weeded out of my practice. I’m thinking switch your Wed client meeting times to Friday AM, and maybe one of the technical blocks to either Saturday of Sunday late afternoon or evening though that’s not the best either. Realisticaly, I’m looking at a four day work week here, other than an hour or so for phone calls and minor matters on Wednesdays.. I know more than that will push me over the exhaustion level.

    Do you have any suggestions from the mommy world for those of us who really can’t put in a five day week? Health is also a consideration with me. I need to work around some medical problems.

    Loving grandmotherhood, and readjusting to “working grandma” mindset.

    Thanks to all,
    Mary Luke

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